Every Girl Should Have a Poem Written for Her (intro)

“For Valerie

All girls should have a poem
written for them even if
we have to turn this God-damn world
upside down to do it.

New Mexico | March 16, 1969”

–Richard Brautigan

A couple years ago I found this poem in among my old school things. I’d read it before it struck me anew and I was absolutely delighted by the prospect. I took it as a personal challenge to write at least one poem every day for a woman or girl I knew or had come into contact with in my life, even in the most passing of ways. I did this in a journal that was mostly used up, but not totally used up, and I did this until the journal was finally filled.

I had actually completely forgotten about that until I found the journal while unpacking a box yesterday. I flipped through it, found the poems, and thought to myself, “I should share these.”

I would also like to invite you, gentle reader, to take up the challenge for yourself. If you’re also a poet and maybe need a prompt to get the juices flowing, why not use Richard Brautigan’s poem for Valerie? Write the women and girls in your life their very own poems, and if you do please leave a link in the comments. I would love to see them.


Great Grandma
I am forgotten
Alone in this house
Full of strangers
With crooked heads
And foggy eyes.
It is quiet here
Except for the cries
Cutting through the stale
Re-breathed air
That smells like dust
And aging skin.
I am nameless.
I lost my name in the dirt
In a stable
Many long
Years ago now.
My head
Is an electric pulse.
My arms
Are lightning bolts.
I bit my tongue—
It tastes like iron.
Someone is screaming
In the void.
I dream my children’s faces
My husband’s hands
And when the world
Stops spinning
I am alone
In this house
Full of strangers
With crooked heads
Like mine.


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